A New York City man who traveled to Europe to visit relatives this summer has been stranded there since Oct. 1, an advocacy group says, because his name allegedly appears on the no-fly list.
According to the New York Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Samir Suljovic, 26, flew to Montenegro this summer to visit family and friends, but when he tried to travel back to New York on Oct. 1, airline representatives in Vienna, Austria, told him the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection had asked them not to allow him to board his flight.
CAIR says Suljovic is now in Germany. The advocacy group said it had demanded answers from the authorities, but have not heard back from the local U.S. Embassy or from customs and homeland security officials. Suljovic, a U.S. citizen born and raised in Queens, has no criminal history, CAIR says.
“This is outrageous,” CAIR-NY Executive Director Muneer Awad told NBCNewYork.com. “They basically ignored his calls for a reason why this is happening.”
According to the New York Daily News, the FBI maintains the no-fly list, and the TSA checks names against the list when allowing passengers on commercial flights.
“This is not a unique case for American Muslims who have been traveling abroad,” Awad told the Daily News. “He has no criminal record, he has never been charged with anything criminal. A Muslim happened to be traveling abroad and it raised a red flag for no other reason than that he is Muslim.”
In a letter addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, New York members of Congress and the U.S. Embassy in Munich, CAIR states: "The denial of Mr. Suljovic's right to return home without due process of law constitutes a grave violation of his civil rights and liberties. Instead of protecting this young U.S. citizen while he traveled abroad, the government has effectively stranded him in an unfamiliar country without shelter or protection."
An FBI spokesman told the Daily News the no-fly list contains about 20,000 names, and about 500 of those are American citizens.
“99.7 percent of the people who file complaints about the no-fly list, it turns out it has nothing to do with the no-fly list at all,” the spokesman told the Daily News.
In 2010, a New York man with the same name as Suljovic sued the Gramercy Park Hotel because management wouldn't hire him unless he shaved his beard, the New York Post reported.
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